Choosing a bank may not be the most important decision of your life. But choosing a bank that best suits your needs can make it easier to manage your finances – and it can save you money. Because you have a relationship with a bank that should be mutually beneficial, you do have the right to demand a little more from your financial institution. If your bank doesn’t, you can move your money. Here are 10 things you should look for in a bank:
1. FDIC Insurance
You want to make sure your money is safe. Currently, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation guarantees money in deposit accounts up to $250,000. (On January 1, 2014, if nothing changes, that amount drops to $100,000.) This means that if your bank fails, you’ll get your money. Regardless, it’s a good idea to check on the health of your bank, because in some cases it can take weeks to straighten things out after a bank failure. So you will get your money, but it may be some time before you can access it. If you use a credit union, the NCUA provides protection similar to that of the FDIC.
2. Reasonable fees
Find out what fees the bank charges. Some banks refund ATM fees, and others just charge you every time you do something. Find out about monthly maintenance fees and other fees your bank may charge. Look for a financial institution that charges little to no fees. For example, a small ATM fee may be reasonable, but it is rarely reasonable for a bank to charge maintenance fees. Look for a bank that charges low fees, and doesn’t pile them on.
3. Low minimum requirements
Look for a financial institution whose minimum requirements are fairly low. Some bank accounts charge fees if you fall below a certain minimum. While this is reasonable for a money market account, a standard checking account should not have a minimum deposit requirement. Look around until you find a financial institution that offers a range of accounts with no minimum requirements.
4. Customer Service
Don’t underestimate the importance of good customer service. You want to feel somewhat valued by your financial institution. Are the tellers friendly? Can you make an appointment with the bank manager? Look for a bank that makes an effort to meet your needs in a timely manner. Also, check out the bank’s website and phone services to see if they are convenient and easy to use.
5. Accessible ATMs
You want to have access to your money in most places. Think about where you are likely to need an ATM and try to find a financial institution that offers this access. However, this does not mean that you have to be with a national bank chain to access your money everywhere. Many community banks and credit unions are part of cooperatives that use a network to give you free access to your money through ATMs in that network. See what kind of network you can tap into to use ATMs.
Continue reading on the next page to discover more things to look for from your online bank.